The project involves an interactive survey, consisting of realistic dog health scenarios. The aim is to explore UK dog owners' decision-making around their dog's health.


Online information sourcing is an increasingly popular resource for canine caregivers when they are concerned about their dog. However, the value of information sourced online to the caregiver (and ultimately, their dog’s welfare) is likely dependent on its’ factual accuracy, relevance to the heath problem, along with personal interpretation by the caregiver (e.g. accessibility of writing and acceptability of information to caregivers). Anecdotally, veterinary professionals are often concerned about caregivers using the internet for researching their canine’s health due to perceived threats to animal welfare. This study aims to explore if and how online information sourcing affects the decision-making of UK canine caregivers when deciding whether to seek veterinary care for dogs exhibiting clinical signs of disease.


A survey has been designed to explore caregivers’ responses to a series of validated vignettes representing common acute (e.g. acute diarrhoea) and chronic (e.g. osteoarthritis) canine health conditions. Caregivers’ decision-making in response to these vignettes will be explored, including their perception of urgency for each condition reviewed. The survey will also explore caregivers’ emotional state by exploring how anxious they would feel if their own dog presented similarly and how confident they are in the appropriateness and accuracy of their responses. Further questioning will explore their usual online information-sourcing behaviours and decision-making for seeking veterinary care. The survey will recruit participants from the UK using a snowball sampling approach including dissemination via social media, and relevant veterinary and welfare networks. Participants will be eligible for inclusion if they are over 18 years of age; resident in the United Kingdom and currently own at least one dog.


This study will result in a greater understanding of canine caregivers’ online information-sourcing and decision-making regarding seeking veterinary care for their dog, which will help the UK veterinary profession better support caregivers, with the aim of improving the relationship between veterinary professionals and UK dog caregivers, and ultimately canine welfare.


DogWeb Survey


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